Sunday, Oct 17

Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Racing: Cole Custer Daytona Advance

Notes of Interest

 

● The final regular-season race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is at hand and that means it’s “win-and-you’re-in” time for driver Cole Custer and the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) during Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. With 15 of the 16 Cup Series playoff berths already clinched, Custer and his teammates can lay claim to the lone remaining berth with a victory in Saturday night’s 400-mile race on the high-banked, 2.5-mile Daytona oval. Custer qualified for last year’s playoffs with his maiden Cup Series victory at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta en route to scoring series Rookie of the Year honors.

 

● Back with Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team for the season’s third of six appearances as primary partner is Autodesk Fusion 360, which kicked off its fourth season with Custer and SHR in June on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course and made its second appearance two weekends ago in the inaugural Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The Sonoma weekend was a hometown race for San Francisco-based Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries.

 

● Saturday’s 400-mile race will be Custer’s 65th Cup Series start and his fourth on the Daytona oval. At this year’s season-opening Daytona 500, Custer led a lap and ran a majority of the final stage in the top-10 before finishing 11th.  A year ago this weekend, he started 16th and was working his way toward the top-10 in the final laps before being collected in a multicar accident three laps short of the finish. In his Daytona 500 debut in February 2020, Custer started 12th but was forced to retire on lap 174 due to a rear-end mechanical issue.

 

● In NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Daytona, Custer made six starts from 2017 through 2019, all in SHR Fords. He had a best start of third in the August 2018 race, and best finishes of 14th in the 2018 and 2019 season openers, both seasons culminating with runner-up finishes in the series championship.

 

● Eleven days after his 18th birthday, Custer started the 2016 ARCA Menards Series season opener and his first career race on the Daytona oval from the pole. He led a race-high 42 laps before bringing the No. 54 for car owner Ken Schrader home 10th.

 

● After last weekend’s 23rd-place finish on the 2-mile oval at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Custer arrives at Daytona 28th in the driver standings.

 

● Joining Autodesk on the No. 41 Ford Mustang is team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, which was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com have proven to be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment. Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

 

● With Hunger Action Month set to kick off Sept. 1, SHR, its partner Wow Wow Classic Waffles, and Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, are asking fans to begin thinking about their answer to a simple question: How will you choose to end hunger? Hunger Action Month is an annual campaign dedicated to driving awareness and inspiring action to help end hunger in America, both on a national scale and on the ground in local communities. It’s a time when the Feeding America network of food banks and the public come together to raise awareness and inspire action to help people facing impossible choices due to hunger. Fans are encouraged to visit the Hunger Action Month page via the Feeding America website to learn how they can take action through sharing, volunteering, pledging to advocate, fundraising and making a donation. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks. Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team have accumulated nearly 100 volunteer hours to date, working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in packing bags and helping with drop-off events at Charlotte-area schools.

 

● Fans can do their part by texting HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America, by visiting the Feeding America donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.

 

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

 

You’ve got one race left to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. What will be the approach for you and the team?

“I think we’ll have to be aggressive, which is pretty typical for speedway racing, but you’ve got to be there at the end to have chance to get the win. Anything can happen and I think there are going to be a lot of guys racing for that last playoff spot that we don’t usually see in that position. I don’t know if that means it’ll be a calmer race, but I do think that changes things.”

 

A couple of your stronger runs this year have come on the superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega. How does that bode for you and the team this weekend?
“I think that plays well into our hand, and we’ve learned a lot since those races earlier in the season. As a whole, our team has gotten better, we just need all of the pieces to come together. So hopefully we’ve learned enough to take what we did earlier this year and turn that into a win to get our spot in the playoff field.”

 

Do you admit to getting a little more pumped up for the night race at Daytona than other races on the schedule?

“I think it’s an exciting race. Under the lights at Daytona, I think it brings a whole different atmosphere. People are getting a little bit crazier and the sparks are flying. It’s a fan favorite. When you’re in a pack with 40 cars just inches apart, it definitely gets your eyes going. It’s one of those things where you probably take the first 10 or 15 laps to just try and calm down and get used to it. There’s nothing like it – inches apart and one mistake and you’re starting the big one. So it’s a different style of racing that makes you focus just a little harder every time.”

 

Does this Daytona race carry a sense of desperation, where drivers might look for opportunities that aren’t there simply because the clock is up?

“Yeah, there are going to be a lot of people on different agendas, I feel like. You’re going to have some guys who are going for all the stage points, and they’re going to race as hard as they can. You’re going to have some guys who are trying to play the safe approach and just make it to the end. So, it’s going to be a strange race to figure out who is on what agenda. The playoff cutoff line is there, so that adds a lot of tension. It’s a really crazy, unpredictable race anyway, so it might be tough for some guys to go into it with their head screwed on straight, if you will.”

 

Where do you feel is the better place to be if the big one occurs, in front or it or behind it?

“You want to be in front of it, but being in front of it is not easy and it doesn’t guarantee anything, I guess. It can happen at any moment, is the problem, so you really just have to go and race. We talk about trying to game it and trying to stay in front of it or behind it and everything, but for the most part you’ve just got to go race, hope for the best. If things are getting crazy and you’re in a bad spot, maybe you back out, but for the most part you go and race.”

 

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